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20 March 2007

From Knowledge to Action

The Learning organisation is a phrase only too well known in the Knowledge Management sphere. In 1996, more than 1,700 business books were published in the USA. Each year, more than $60 billion is spent on training in and by organisations, particularly management training. With so much education and research, management consulting, books and articles, why is it that the little change that does occur often happens with such great difficulty?

Researchers & authors, Pfeffer & Sutton asked this question and discovered in their four-year programme of research that this is because knowledge of what needs to be done, frequently fails to result in action or behaviour consistent with that knowledge. This is what they termed the Knowing- Doing Gap. The real reasons businesses fail to compete successfully are the major obstacles to action that confront people in organizations-from CEOs to entry- level professionals.

In their book they examine how smart companies turn knowledge into action and their study analyses how some organisations consistently are able to turn knowledge into action while others fail. Their findings reveal that it is management practices that either create or reduce the Knowing -Doing gap.

KM is not just a set of techniques or tools. If that were so, it would not have been difficult for other manufacturers to copy the Toyota Production System (TPS) even though the details have been given in books and Toyota actually gives tours of its manufacturing facilities.

The difference is in the philosophy and perspective and about things such as people, processes, quality, continuous improvement and other things that represents not just the surface but the "soul".

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